The SAIMM is a professional institute with local and international links aimed at assisting members source information about technological developments in the mining, metallurgical and related sectors.
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A monthly publication devoted to scientific transactions and specialist technical topics is unlikely to be on the priority reading list of the majority of the mining and metallurgical community. But it is the ambition of the Publication's Committee to make the Journal of much wider interest to our general membership from technician trainees to mine managers to CEO's of our constituent companies. It is to entice general readership that some 1200 words of valuable space are devoted to the Journal Comment each month. This is intended to highlight some of the features and impact of the papers to excite and activate attention.

To entice this preliminary glance before confining the publication to the book shelf or even the wpb, the author has to call on a large measure of journalistic licence in style, titles and quotations. It is essential to be spicy, controversial and even provocative to separate it from the abbreviated authoritative but necessary scientific style of the bulk of the contents.
The Journal Comment aims to be an enticement to dig into some important feature of the papers in the issue. For this reason it has been decided to include it as a separate item on the Institutes Web Site. This might provoke those who enjoy twittering, blogging and googling to submit comment and criticism, all of which will be welcomed and responded to. At least it is proof that somebody has read it.
R.E. Robinson

Advanced Metals Initiative (AMI) is with great pleasure that we once again present the annual conference of the Advanced Metals Initiative (AMI). The AMI was established jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the science councils, namely, Mintek, NECSA and the CSIR and has received generous funding from the DST since 2003. The principal objective of the AMI is to increase local industrialization through a research and development led initiative. In essence the AMI focuses on the downstream beneficiation of local resources and aims to achieve this through the development of materials, applications and technologies that enable the formation of new industries, enhance the competiveness of existing industries or localise the production of existing advanced and critical products. The AMI is split into four networks, each focused on specific local resources. We have the Precious Metals Development Network (PMDN) active in platinum group metals and gold, the Light Metals Development Network (LMDN) looking at aluminium and titanium, the Ferrous Metals Development Network (FMDN) considering iron and alloying base metals, and the Nuclear Metals Development Network (NMDN) advancing zirconium, hafnium and tantalum processes and products.

Hydrometallurgy Conference 2016

Selo Ndlovu 2017ʻSustainable Hydrometallurgical Extraction of Metalsʼ

This edition of the Journal features papers that were presented at the Hydrometallurgy Conference, which was held from 31 July to 3 August 2016. The theme of the conference was ‘Sustainable Hydrometallurgical Extraction of Metals’ and it was attended by 150 delegates from around the world. The conference was organized in collaboration with the Western Cape Branch.

The conference was preceded by a workshop on ‘Test work and its importance in metallurgical design’. Topics presented at the workshop included a review of existing models for process and project development, process test work, flow sheet selection, simulation models, and case studies. The workshop was very well attended by industry delegates, academics, and students.

We have a Problem?

I start my Journal Comment with the iconic phrase: ‘Houston, we have a problem’. Those with good memories might just recall that these were the words spoken by astronaut Jack Swigert during the aborted Apollo 13 moon mission, when he reported to ground control an undervoltage on the capsule bus. At least that’s what I recall he said.

Something in the back of my mind suggested that it might just be prudent to check the correctness of the quotation. The words were actually spoken by Kevin Bacon who starred as Jack Swigert in the movie ‘Apollo 13’. What Swigert actually said was: ‘OK, Houston, we’ve had a problem here’. Close enough – I prefer the movie version!

Focus on the Heavy Minerals Conference held at Sun City from 16–18 August 2016

The papers in this issue of the Journal are selected from the Heavy Minerals Conference held at Sun City from 16–18 August 2016. This conference, which has been held every two years since 1997, is the main technically focused conference covering the heavy minerals industry. The venue moves between various countries where heavy minerals processing is important. The 2016 conference, the 10th in the series, was attended by representatives from 17 countries covering all the major continents.

University of South Africa (UNISA)

This issue contains just one paper from the University of South Africa (UNISA), the only South African university offering mining engineering and mine surveying by open distance learning. Lugoma explores the possibility of supplementing online course content with oncampus practical sessions. The encouraging findings have prompted him to roll out this approach to education so as to enable students to familiarize themselves with mine surveying equipment before they begin their professional careers.

Mining, Environment and Society Conference

        Major issue areas for mining and the SDGs (

The papers in this issue of the Journal are selected from the Mining, Environment and Society Conference, held at Mintek on 12 and 13 May 2015. The two keynote addresses, 14 presentations, and two panel discussions highlighted the increasing relevance of environmental and social issues to the mining sector and its sustainability.

Renewable Energy — Quo Vadis?

The December edition of the Journal contains 14 papers, split almost equally between mining and metallurgical topics – there is something to cover most interests.

Four papers deal with different aspects of coal mining, with all having an underlying theme of enhancing safety in mining. The next two investigate the testing and mechanized installation of rockbolts, also dealing with safety in mining, albeit at a slight distance. The remaining two mining papers also have an indirect link to mining safety, with the first investigating the numerical simulation of surrounding rock creep. The second paper in this mining group reviews previous methodologies for stope boundary selection (alright, I confess, somewhat of a stretch in finding a safety association here!).

Wits Mining

From time to time the SAIMM dedicates an edition of its Journal to a special event. The two volumes of which the November 2016 Edition is Volume I, are dedicated to the Wits School of Mining Engineering (Wits Mining) in celebrating its 120 years of existence, and to providing a platform for the School to showcase its research efforts. The papers could not fit into a single volume, hence the double edition – ample testimony to the amount of research work that Wits Mining undertakes! A perusal of the papers shows the relevance of the research to both the local and international mining industries.

Diamonds still Sparkling Conference 2016

What an apt name for this conference, given the current turmoil in the mining industry as a whole and particularly here in southern Africa. While the rest of the industry battles through its routine commodity cycle, diamonds seem able to maintain a certain sparkle. That is not to say that diamonds do not experience their own cycles, but rather that diamonds have always stood apart from other minerals commodities and seem to have that little bit extra. With the De Beers’s ‘Diamonds are Forever’ catchline and ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ slogan keeping the allure of diamonds up there apart from the other commodities.

Danie Krige Geostatistical Conference 2015

One might ask what benefit the Danie Krige Geostatistical Conference imparted to the delegates. Principally, it drew us together and confirmed again the importance of the work being done in the field of geostatistics. A significant concern over the past decade and a half has been the declining numbers of local geostatistics practitioners and the need for ongoing education of the geostatistical fraternity. Unfortunately, there are many geostatisticians working in South Africa who have become ‘transparent’ to the professional institutions in that they are not affiliated in any way. All participants at the Conference were urged to enrol as members of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM), and the Geostatistical Association of Southern Africa (GASA).